In the high-stakes world of offshore energy contracts, meticulous planning and precise execution are non-negotiable. One aspect that deserves special attention is the often-overlooked but critical process of drafting and implementing detailed variation orders. Why is it important to have a robust variation order process?

Avoiding Financial Storms

  • Understand the Cost Implications: A detailed variation order process helps assess the financial impact of changes, preventing unexpected budget overruns.
  • Avoiding disputes: Using the principles of fairness and transparency to mitigate the risk of financial disputes and penalties.

Follow the Contract Process

  • Follow the variation process: It is of utmost importance to follow the variation process detailed in the contract as variation claims are often rejected because of a failure to do so. It follows that you should ensure that the process is achievable whilst drafting the contract – don’t sign up to a variation process you cannot adhere to.
  • Leveraging Standard Contracts: For offshore contracts in the UKCS, LOGIC is a great starting point, but for more detailed variation processes, the standard construction and engineering contracts aimed primarily at onshore construction projects (like NEC or FIDIC) can provide more optionality and remember that generally, offshore projects will not constitute “construction operations” under the UK Construction legislation.

Timely Tides

  • Project Deadline Assurance: A well-defined variation order process is the key to avoiding delays, ensuring projects stay on track and within stipulated timelines.
  • Risk Mitigation: Identify potential delays early on, allowing for proactive measures to be taken, reducing the impact on project completion.

Complexity Navigated

  • Nuanced Approach to Force Majeure: In the ever-changing offshore environment, a detailed process helps distinguish between routine changes and unforeseen challenges, addressing force majeure considerations effectively.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Build flexibility into your variation order process, recognizing the inherent complexity of offshore projects and the need for adaptability.

Dispute Prevention, Relationship Preservation

  • Clear Communication: Transparent and detailed variation order processes foster open communication among stakeholders, minimizing the risk of disputes.
  • Relationship Building: Establish trust by adhering to fair and equitable processes, crucial for fostering positive and collaborative relationships.

Strategic Decision-Making

  • Informed Choices: A detailed variation order process provides stakeholders with the information needed to make informed decisions, preventing costly errors in judgment.
  • Strategic Planning: Use the insights gained from a well-structured process to plan and strategize effectively, enhancing the overall success of the project.


The devil is often in the detail. A comprehensive and detailed variation order process is not just a legal checkbox; it’s the linchpin that holds together the financial, legal, and operational aspects of a project. A well-crafted variation order process isn’t just a safeguard; it’s a strategic tool that ensures success in this challenging and dynamic sector.